Hopkins County Jailer Mike Lewis discussed changes to the jail’s policy at a public safety committee meeting before the Hopkins County Fiscal Court meeting on Tuesday.

Lewis said there were no dramatic changes being made to the policy compared to last year.

“Most of these are already in place, they just need final approval,” he said.

One change made was the attendance policy.

Lewis said the jail put in a point system to help lower absenteeism and tardiness, but later realized an issue with employees that needed to go to the doctor but were not able to give a 24 hour notice.

“We made an adjustment to that so that people that are truly sick and need to go to the doctor, and are going to the doctor, are not penalized for that,” Lewis said. “There was a need to revise the policy that we already had so that we didn’t punish people for going to the doctor, especially in this time.”

Lewis said another revision was the classification policy, adding that a lot was changed to make it more simplified and get rid of redundancy.

Another part of the policy change concerned mail for inmates.

“The reason for the change is because of technology,” said Lewis. “We no longer pass out every piece of mail that an inmate receives. If it is legal mail, they do receive the actual note, other than that it is scanned into a kiosk where they can read the scanned copy.”

Lewis said this change was made also for safety concerns, adding that drug paraphernalia can be passed into the jail through envelopes.

The court decided to not vote on the policy during the meeting.

Also during the personnel committee meeting, Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. discussed a policy regarding extending the federal mandate of COVID-19 time off that would give up to 80 hours of emergency sick leave to employees who were having to quarantine either due to contracting the virus themselves or being exposed to it by someone else. During that quarantine, employees would still get paid but it would not count towards their sick time.

“That policy did not carry over after Dec. 31,” said Whitfield. “Companies can give it. Private companies will receive a tax credit for any COVID hours they get. Government entities do not. It will not cost us extra, but employees are going to be forced to take time if they get COVID-19. I think we could just continue that policy, and I think the end date would be March 31 — that is when they are ending the tax credit for private businesses. There’s a chance we will get reimbursed but not something I want to count on.”

No action was taken.

Also during the meeting, the court approved the appointment of Jack Morris to the Paradise Park Board of Directors and approved two pauper burials.